Tag Archives: Bison

Catalina Island Animal Calls

Raven Animal Calls

On Catalina Island there is a wide variety of animals. Some of the animals that we see include ravens, foxes, bison, sea lions, and whales! Each of these 5 animals make vocalizations, or sounds, for specific reasons.

The common raven typically tends to use one of two calls. The first call is a loud caw or groan. Ravens use this call to communicate with each other. Their call can be heard by ravens that are a mile away! The second call that ravens make is a fast, repetitive caw. Ravens typically use this call when they are hunting prey like rodents, worms, or insects!

The Channel Island fox, Urocyon littoralis, is a relatively quiet animal. However, it can make up to 40 sounds and calls! These calls are used by a foxes to convey different messages to one another. For example, foxes will bark to alert other members of its skulk about danger, such as an approaching predator. The male foxes bark to attract a mate and growl to protect their territory. Female foxes bark to locate their cubs. Sometimes, the small cubs will let out a little  bark just to get mom’s attention!

Bison Animal Calls A bison can often be heard snorting, grunting, and even coughing! Male bison attract a mate by making a deep, low rumbling sound called a bellow. The length, volume, and frequency of the bellow indicates which male is the most dominant and therefore the most likely to find a mate! The female bison uses calls to locate her young. She will produce low grunts and wait for the calf to respond with high-pitched grunts! They repeat this process until they can find each other.

Sea Lion Animal Calls Sea lions communicate both audibly and visually. When they make a sound, they also strike a distinct pose! Male sea lions lift their heads up high in the air and bark when they are claiming their territory. When they are barking to defend their territory from other sea lions, they will bark right in the face of the trespassing seal lion! The female sea lions bark to locate and protect their pups. The female sea lion lets out a loud yell and listens for her pup’s weak crying response!

Whale Animal CallsWhales use clicks, whistles, and calls to communicate with their pod. Toothed whales called odontocetes use echolocation to help them navigate and find food! When echolocating, whales will make a clicking sound and wait for the sound to echo back to them. When the whales hear the echo, they are able to identify the location of the object or animal they are trying to find! Some whales can echolocate prey that is over 1,500 feet away! Whales also whistle and call to socialize with other members of their pod. Scientists discovered that whales have different dialects to help them differentiate between their pod and strangers! Certain low frequency calls can travel more than 10,000 miles across the sea. Pretty wild, right?!



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Corvus_corax_(Common_Raven),_Yosemite_NP,_CA,_US_-_Diliff.jpg (Raven photo)




https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/16512606125 (Fox photo)



https://www.flickr.com/photos/don34685/22654449684/ (Bison Photo)



https://www.flickr.com/photos/catsnorkelscuba/7826945136 (Sea lion photo)





The North American Bison

The North American Bison, scientific name Bison bison, was first brought to Catalina Island back in 1924. These gentle giants were brought to the island for the production of the film “The Vanishing American”, which was never fully completed. After the movie went bankrupt, the film crew left the Bison on the island and these animals quickly flourished. The 14 bison that were first brought to the island grew to 600. Today the bison are monitored the Catalina Island Conservancy and the population ranges from anywhere between 150 to 200 bison at a time.

IMG_3145The North American Bison’s original habitat is located throughout the North American Midwest. Due to over hunting and loss of habitat the once great bison population diminished to less than 500 individuals back in the early 1900s. This drop in the population resulted in a loss of genetic diversity. Today bison populations are continuing to grow and are primarily located in large reserves or parks such as Yellowstone National Park. Populations such as the Catalina Island herd must be carefully monitored to ensure these exotic animals do not overgrow their habitats carrying capacity and run out of resources.

Watchful Protector: Catalina Island Conservancy

Students visiting Catalina Island Marine Institute for the first time make various exclamations, and one of the most popular is, “Why is the water so clear here compared to the mainland?” With 88% of Catalina Island protected, it is no wonder that the land and surrounding oceans are pristine. But, who do we have to thank for ensuring the continuation of an unmarred coastline? The Catalina Island Conservancy acts as the protectors and ecologically safe tour guides of this natural, wild island.

The Catalina Island Conservancy was founded in 1972, to protect and preserve the island and its native inhabitants. The Conservancy manages, through a unique balance of education and conservation, to retain the natural wonders of Catalina, while still opening the island to the public. The 62 miles of undeveloped coastline make up the longest stretch available for public visiting in Southern California. The Conservancy is also responsible for protecting animals, such as our adorable Catalina Island Foxes and regal Bison. There are over 60 endemic (meaning only found on the island) species of plants, animals and insects. That’s a lot to protect!

The Conservancy welcomes over one million visitors each year, over sixty thousand of which are students visiting camps. The education of visitors, adult and children alike, is an important component of tourism on Catalina Island. The Conservancy ensures that tourism does not affect the natural beauty of the island, nor harms any of its native inhabitants. Instead, through education and experience, tourists have a greater appreciation and understanding of the Conservancy’s mission to retain the natural wonder of the island. Tourists also have the opportunity to contribute to various causes and efforts to benefit the island’s wildlife. Their website, www.CatalinaIslandConservancy.org, provides a variety of ways to offer support. To generate awareness and support the Conservancy also hosts events and fundraisers.

Although most of the island is protected and tourism is allowed in an ecologically sustainable way, sometimes ecosystems or animals are negatively affected by natural or human influence. With a commitment to keeping the island as natural as possible, the Conservancy is very involved in restorative practices for areas and animals that has been impacted. All management decisions are made under the influence of research conducted on the island, and the Conservancy welcomes research projects that aid in those decisions.

So, next time you are on Catalina Island and remark on the beauty of the water, or abundance of wildlife, remember that the Catalina Island Conservancy is there to make sure it will look just as magnificent the next time you come!

Bison 101 on World Wildlife Day

Catalina Island is known for its biodiversity and natural beauty both underwater and on land. One creature of particular interest is the American Bison (Bison bison). Have you ever wondered how such a big animal ended up on an island twenty two miles away from the mainland, and hundreds of miles further from the Great Plains?

Though now an iconic feature of the island, the bison were not always here. In 1924, a small herd of 14 bison were brought over to Catalina Island during the filming of the movie The Vanishing American. After filming, the bison were released into the Catalina wild and eventually more were brought over for a breeding program. Having no island predators near large enough to prey on the bison, the herd sized boomed to near 600 by the 1970’s! The bison were grossly overpopulated, causing ecological damage such as over-grazing and erosion. This presented a unique dilemma for the Catalina Island Conservancy: how do you maintain a healthy population of bison on such a small island? Studies showed that about 150 bison could live here sustainably. In 2009, after a few different ideas of how to preserve a healthy herd (including sending off excess bison to market in California or a reserve in South Dakota), a seemingly perfect solution was found. Currently, female bison (called “cows”) are darted with a contraceptive that has a 95% success rate. The contraceptive allows the conservancy to limit the bison numbers to just around 150. This is a great success story of wildlife management for the betterment of both the animals and people.

More than just a tourist attraction on Catalina Island, American Bison are a national treasure. Weighing over a ton, bison are the heaviest land animals in North America. Don’t let their size fool you though, they can also jump up to 6 feet off the ground and run at rapid speeds up to 40 miles per hour. Though they used to be scattered all across the Great Plains, over 20 million bison were killed off as Americans were moving west during the 19th century. By the year 1889, only 1,091 bison were left in the United States. Today, after intense protective measures, bison populations have bounced back to about 500,000 with near 30,000 in conservation herds, like on Catalina. It goes to show that with some environmental awareness and responsible actions, humans are able to coexist peacefully with animals in the natural world.

Written by: Max Veenema


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